Frangible bullets: wounding capability and clinical aspects of their use

Authors: J. Komenda 1;  P. Hejna 2;  M. Rydlo 3;  M. Novák 4;  J. Krajsa 5;  F. Racek 1
Authors‘ workplace: Univerzita obrany v Brně 1;  Ústav soudního lékařství LF UK a FN Hradec Králové 2;  Robert Bosch, Stuttgart 3;  Prototypa-ZM, Brno 4;  Ústav soudního lékařství FN Brno 5
Published in: Soud Lék., 57, 2012, No. 2, p. 21-24
Category: Original Article


The article deals with basic characteristics of the frangible bullets and it documents a very specific behaviour of chosen types of these bullets in testing blocks as a substitute materials of alive tissues.

The frangible bullets have several important advantages compared to the classical sorts of firearms bullets. The highest benefit could be seen especially in the limited penetrating capability and very low ricochet hazard connected with the use of these bullets. The absence of poisonous elements in the material of frangible bullets (for instance lead) is highly appreciated from the ecology reasons nowadays as well. The cartridges assembled with frangible bullets are used most of all for the practise reasons by law enforcement units, but can be used very effectively also in combat situations.

Results of own shooting experiments confirm that the wound potential of bullet can be changed in a very large extent with the change of the manufacturing technology and the bullet’s geometry. Newly developed frangible bullets and the already manufactured bullets available on the market are characterized by very specific terminal ballistic features. Some frangible bullets behave in a comparable way to full metal jacketed bullets while penetrating soft tissues. Another frangible bullets of different designs fragment to the pieces in soft tissues and cause very serious wounds with persistent effects. The usage of frangible bullets and a potential risk of misuse of this specific sort of ammunition require also new approaches in the medicine for the treatment of the gunshot wounds.

frangible bullets (projectiles) – metal powder – wounding capability – wounding potential – wound ballistcs – gunshot wounds – bullet fragmentation


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Anatomical pathology Forensic medical examiner Toxicology
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